Friday, July 23, 2021

Glossary of Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms and Drug Delivery Systems

by | October 12, 2020 4

Dosage forms are pharmaceutical preparations or formulations in which a specific mixture of drug substances (active pharmaceutical ingredients) and inactive components (excipients) are presented in a particular configuration to facilitate easy and accurate administration and delivery of active drug substances. It describes the physical form of a dose of a chemical compound used as a drug or medication intended for administration or consumption.

There are several types of dosage forms, depending on the method/route of delivery of the medicine. Dosage forms can also be grouped based on their physical form. Apart from ensuring safe and convenient delivery of the required dose of drug substances to the sites of action, dosage forms are needed for other reasons listed in the article “Understanding Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms”.

This article provides a glossary of pharmaceutical dosage forms and drug delivery systems. These are by no means exhaustive. You can add to the list using the comment section.


Pharmaceutical aerosols are dosage forms that are packaged under pressure and contain therapeutically active ingredients that are released as a fine mist, spray, or foam upon activation of an appropriate valve system. Some aerosol emissions are intended to be inhaled deep into the lungs (inhalation aerosol), whereas others are intended for topical application to the skin or to mucous membranes. Aerosols with metered valve assemblies permit a specific quantity of emission for dosage regulation.

Aromatic Waters

Aromatic waters are clear, saturated solutions of volatile oils or other aromatic substances in water. They usually have a pleasant smell and are used orally, topically, or pharmaceutically for the characteristics of the aromatic material they contain.


Boluses are large long tablets intended for administration to animals.


Bougies are solid dosage forms intended for insertion into the nostril or insertion into the urethra.


Cachets are oral preparation consisting of dry powder enclosed in a shell of rice paper (wafer capsule) formerly used by pharmacists for presenting unpalatable drugs.


Capsules are solid dosage forms in which one or more medicinal and/or excipients are enclosed within small shell. The shell dissolves in the stomach, releasing the drug. Depending on the composition of the capsule shell, capsules may be classified as either hard capsules or soft capsules. Capsule shells are made from gelatin, starch, cellulose, or other suitable materials.

Several categories of capsules may be distinguished and they include:

Read More on Capsule Dosage Forms, Types, Manufacturing Processes, and Quality Control


Creams are semisolid dosage form containing one or more drug substances dissolved or dispersed in a suitable base. They are intended to be applied to the skin and, to a lesser extent, to mucous membranes for protective, prophylactic and therapeutic purposes where occlusion is not necessary.

Pharmaceutical and cosmetic creams are generally oil-in-water emulsions (aqueous or hydrophilic creams), although the term is also used occasionally to describe semisolid water-in-oil emulsions (oily or hydrophobic creams).

Creams can be classified into medicated creams (if they have active pharmaceutical ingredients with a particular pharmacological activity such as antibacterial, antifungal, or antipruritic) or nonmedicated creams (if they are used for cosmetic purposes to moisturize, beautify, and nourish the skin). Compared to ointments, creams are easier to spread and remove.


This is a liquid preparation intended for the irrigative cleansing of the nostril (nasal douches) or the vagina (vaginal douche). Douches are prepared from powders, liquid solutions, or liquid concentrates.


Draught is a liquid oral preparation of fairly small volume and usually consisting of one dose. The draught differs only from the mixture in being dispensed in bottles, each of which contains but one dose.


Drops are liquid preparation in which the quantity to be used at any one time is so small that it is measured as a number of drops (e.g. in a small pipette). Drops may comprise an oral preparation (usually pediatric), or may be intended for introduction into the nose, ear or eye; the title of the product is amended accordingly.

Dusting powder

Dusting powder is a preparation consisting of one or more substances in fine powder intended for the application to intact skin.


Elixirs are sweetened, flavored, hydroalcoholic (combinations of water and ethanol) solutions intended for oral administration of potent or nauseous medicaments, in a small dose volume. They may be medicated or nonmedicated.

Compared to syrups, elixirs are usually less sweet and less viscous because they contain a lesser amount of sugar and are consequently less effective than syrups in masking the taste of drug. In contrast to aqueous syrups, elixirs are better able to maintain both water-soluble and alcohol-soluble components in solution due to their hydroalcoholic character. These solubility characteristics often make elixirs preferable to syrups.


An emulsion is a type of dispersal system in which one liquid is dispersed as globules throughout another liquid. The two liquids, generally an oil and water, are immiscible and constitute two phases that would separate into layers without the presence of a third agent, an emulsifier or emulsifying agent. The latter facilitates the emulsification process and provides physical stability to the system.

When the oil phase is dispersed as globules throughout an aqueous continuous phase, the system is referred to as an oil-in-water (o/w) emulsion. When the aqueous phase is dispersed, and the oil phase is the continuous phase, the emulsion is termed as water-in-oil (w/o) emulsion. The type of emulsion produced is largely determined by the emulsifying agent, with hydrophilic agents generally producing oil-in-water emulsions and lipophilic agents generally producing water-in-oil emulsions. Depending on their formulation, emulsions may be administered orally, topically, or by intravenous injection.


Enema is an aqueous or oily solution or suspension intended for rectal administration. They are used for cleansing, diagnostic, therapeutic, or nutritive purposes.


Extracts are concentrated preparations of vegetable or animal drugs prepared by removal of the active constituents with suitable menstrua, by evaporation of all or nearly all of the solvent, and by adjustment of the residual mass or powder to the prescribed standards.

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  1. Oladunni says:

    Thanks for the info. Keep on the good job

  2. Rabiu Hashimu says:

    Thanks for your delivering good information please keep it up

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